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Pilot Asked To Return To Airport Just Before Crash

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File photo of wreckage from a plane crash. (Photo by NTSB via Getty Images)

File photo of wreckage from a plane crash. (Photo by NTSB via Getty Images)

ATLANTA (AP) — Federal authorities investigating an airplane crash that killed two people say the pilot contacted an air traffic controller immediately after taking off from an airport near Atlanta, asking to return to the airport.

The pilot was then given instructions to return to Fulton County Airport, according to a preliminary report released this week by the National Transportation Safety Board. The report says he didn’t specify any possible problems on board, and no further transmissions were recorded before the Raytheon 390 Premier I plane crashed in northwest Atlanta Dec. 17.

An eyewitness who lived nearby reported the airplane struck a tree and veered to the right before crashing, the report added. Investigators found evidence that the airplane struck a tree about 80 feet above the ground.

Both people on board died in the crash. They were identified 67-year-old businessman Peter Mallen, a businessman who was the pilot, and 23-year-old Brittany McAuley, a former Emory University student from New York. The plane was en route to New Orleans.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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